The End of the World!

you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to write a techno-thriller – but it helps

Diana Peterson

Rick Jurmain has been a rocket scientist, an inventor, a business owner … and now he can add writer to the list: the perfect portable career for someone who loves to travel.

His first novel, Apocalypse du Jour, was recently released as an e-book. Fast-paced and full of action, the novel takes you through twists and turns, ensuring you will not be able to predict the ending. Think of an episode of Scorpion mixed with a film noir detective film from the 1940s mixed with a story in Mad magazine, and you have an idea what this new genre is like.

“The book is packed full of action, chases, danger, psychological manipulation, soldiers, guns, Godzillas, betrayal, revenge, assassins, blueberry blintzes, computer-hacking, riots, rescues, edge-of-the-seat tension, and one near-catastrophic hot flash,” said Jurmain, a former Chippewa Valley resident, who co-founded Eau Claire-based Realityworks with his late wife, Mary.

In his book, researchers – an autistic programmer, a barely functional paranoid mathematician, a blind vet physicist with severe PTSD, and a basement gamer prototype – meet on the Internet. They collaborate on some research, producing a paper that is published in an obscure journal. Their work done, they go about their daily lives. Three three months later, every major country is rushing to kidnap, kill, or protect them, and they have no idea who to trust. They run for their lives, relying on their special abilities and dealing with their social challenges. So begins the book.

A reader might prepare for a lot of violence in this type of book, but deaths only occur when absolutely necessary. Jurmain discussed his disappointment with the way American culture has begun to almost worship guns and violence in movies and television shows. He has been a professional soldier, and many of his close friends are soldiers. He has a huge respect for their attitude that killing is a last resort. Violence is something they avoid at all costs. Apocalypse du Jour reflects that view. Most of the characters rely more on their intellect than their weapons. “Avoiding violence can be more suspenseful, more realistic, and more personal for most readers,” Jurmain said.

Set in cities around the world, including Eau Claire, the novel reads like a movie filmed with sentences. Jurmain thinks visually: He pictures the scenes in his mind and writes what he sees going on.

The characters are realistic and rely on science and their understanding of human behavior to try to stay one step ahead of everyone else. Details are important, so readers must pay attention to them.

Like unruly children, his characters often took directions he was not planning on them taking. They wrestled control of the book and changed the story entirely, but Jurmain said they also made it a much better book.

The four main characters are definitely the stars of the story, but a lot of fun side characters populate this novel. One of them is Shirley Smith. As Jurmain got to know her, she became more involved in the plot, and he realized he was writing her as his wife, Mary, who passed away several years ago. She became his favorite character in the story.

Mary’s death propelled Rick’s writing. In order to cope with her passing, he needed a way to create an individual identity for himself. He said writing filled that need for him.

Jurmain is working on a sequel to the book, tentatively titled Banging Rocks, based on a quote from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It will be available by the end of the year. It will be the last book in this series, but it definitely won’t be his last book.

He expressed the passion he’s developed for writing several times during his interview: “I love the writing. … It’s just too much fun. … I can’t get enough of it.”

Happily, for readers, he doesn’t just like what he’s doing:He’s very good at it.

Jurmain’s e-books are available on a variety of sites, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.